Judging by the comments on this blog, there are lots of folks stopping by who are just getting into e-publishing (or thinking of getting into it), so I thought a basic checklist post might be in order. If you print it off and put it on the fridge, let me know. I always wanted to be fridge material.
Here we go, how to get started with e-publishing:
1. Get your short story, novella, novel, etc. into as good of shape as possible
I know this sounds obvious, but, judging by the reviews, ebooks on Amazon are rife with typos and grammar faux pas. I see slow pacing, repetitiveness, and plot holes mentioned a lot too.
Finding other writers to trade critiques with will help you polish the story, and an editor can do a final pass to look for typos and grammar nits. Trust me, no matter how many times you read over the story yourself, there will still be typos!
2. Create cover art
If you’re artistically talented, you can do your own cover art, but, for most of us, it’s worth hiring someone. The cover art is the first thing readers will see, and, when they’re surfing Amazon and your book comes up in the search listings, they may not even click on it to check it out if it’s not appealing.
Check out my earlier post on affordable cover art designers if you’re looking for someone. I mentioned two folks, including Glendon Haddix who’s done most of my covers, and there are more artists who left their information in the comments section.
3. Format your ebook
This is one of those things you can learn to do yourself if you’re looking to save money. Unlike editing and cover design, it doesn’t require oft-practiced skills — just a willingness to follow directions and learn the ropes (I’m a little lacking in that area myself, so I pay someone to do my novels and use the Smashwords meatgrinder for my shorter works).
If you’re a DIY type, there are several ebooks out there with instructions, some costing less than $3. Here’s an Amazon ebook and also a link to a long, but thorough how-to guide on the web (free):
- Format Your eBook for Kindle in One Hour – A Step-by-Step Guide
- Guido Henkels’ “Take Pride in Your eBook Formatting Guide”
- Paul Salvette’s excellent guides to Formatting Mobi/EPub files and Formatting for Smashwords
4. Get your ebook online
Head to the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing site and go through the two-page wizard that leads you through uploading the mobi file, the cover art, and inputting your chosen categories, keywords, sales price, etc.
Do the same thing at the Barnes & Noble PubIt site.
To get into other stores, you can work through Smashwords (they won’t accept the files you worked so hard to create, but their meatgrinder will take your Word document and turn it into epub, mobi, pdf, html, etc. files so anyone with any e-reader can peruse your books). Once it’s been approved for the “premium catalog,” they will distribute your ebook to Apple, Sony, Diesel, and a couple of others. Make sure to read their free style guide for tips on formatting your Word document.
5. Promote your ebook!
Ah, we could write whole books on this. What works? What’s a waste of time? There’s a lot to learn when it comes to marketing online. Here are some articles from my own site to get you started:
- High Level vs. Low Level Book Promotion Techniques
- 5 Reasons to Consider Giving Away a Free Ebook
- 7 Reasons You’re Not Selling Many Ebooks
- How to Sell More eBooks at Smashwords
- Book Trailers for Promotion, Yay or Nay?
- Goodreads Advertising Results and Tips on Creating Campaigns
Further reading (ebooks from successful indie e-authors):
- How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!
- The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (Everything A Writer Needs To Know)
- Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author
- The Indie Journey: Secrets to Writing Success