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Self Publishing Ebooks: Six Solutions for Self Publishing Online

Anyone self publishing ebooks in this exciting time of new possibilities will want to be aware of online self publishing options and to know which self publishing companies and services offer the best options and support. Numerous digital publishing solutions exist, but some are faster, easier to use, and cost less than others. Learn how to know if your book is ready for publication, where to hire an ebook cover designer without breaking the budget, which steps lead to a professional edit, and more. Also be sure to read the inspiring article about Martin Crosbie, author of My Temporary Life located at the end of the page.

Publishing an ebook—publishing your own book, particularly if it is your first—can feel both exciting and ripe with promise. It all seems so easy. Write a book, upolad it free to the Internet, and sell thousands of copies. What could be simpler? Anyone with a good idea can become a published author, right?

In this eager state, numerous writers fall prey to unscrupulous self publishing companies happy to accept money for promising much and delivering little. The process will sound complicated as you discuss:

  1. substantive editing, stylistic editing, copyediting/line editing, and proofreading
  2. cover design
  3. interior formatting, back cover, spine, and text design
  4. assignment of International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
  5. registration of ISBN
  6. ePub conversion
  7. publicists, publicity campaign and press releases
  8. marketing plan, media, and advertising
  9. Kirkus, Clarion, and Trifecta reviews
  10. media lists
  11. Ingram catalogue
  12. global distribution
  13. Kindle, iBook, Sony and Nook compatibility

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? Don't worry, your "free" e-publisher will take care of all of this for you—for several thousand dollars. Never before has it been possible to make so much money from so many hopefuls wishing to self publish. You can, however, limit the expense and increase the return on your investment by understanding the costs and spending wisely.

If you hope to sell your finished book, however, please do accept that you will need a generous budget. Plenty of people on the Internet will suggest that you can publish an ebook on a shoestring. What they are unlikely to promise is that you will also make money from the book once you have self published. Supportive friends and family may lay down cash for an unready book, but the average consumer won't. The self publishing process is uncomplicated, and need not break the bank, but it requires specialized skills. The fewer you have, the more you need to budget to produce a professional quality book.

Ebook Publishing Services

  1. For the most professional book possible, hire the best editor you can afford. If you use a vanity press, which charges for book creation and takes a percentage of sales, hire your editor independent of the ebook publisher. You'll receive better value for the cost, and the end product will be a superior book. For best results, find a professional editor who is also an accomplished author. These author/editors understand narrative structure and will address much more than grammar and clarity. To save time and money, hire this person long before you're ready to publish, and receive feedback on early drafts, when you can more easily resolve problems.

    A full professional edit of your manuscript, beginning with substantive editing, such as what you would receive from a professional publisher, can run between $5000 and $10,000. You will work with the editor for several months, sometimes longer, as you make revisions and refine the ms. Your editor will make suggestions about overall structure, scene structure and pacing, and will point to places that need further development. He or she will point to problems with plotting or characterization, and can teach you much about narrative.

    If you need a ghostwriter more than an editor, the costs will be higher. Good ghostwritten manuscripts often cost in the tens of thousands, the price dependant on how much research and rough draft material the author provides.

    If you receive a quote of a few hundred dollars for editing, you are likely to receive copyediting, nothing more. Copyediting aims to correct grammar and make your writing clear, comprehensible, and consistent, but it does not address the quality of the overall story or message. Consider the following paragraph, the first unedited, the second copyedited, and the third a result of substantive and stylistic editing:

    • Look for knowing editrs when you write a book. You'll get better value for the cost, and end produc will be a superiar bock. I recommend hiring your book editor independant of the ebook publisher. For the most professional book possible, avoid skimping on editing or book cover desine. find a professional book editor who is also an accomplished author, especially if you use a vanity press. Vanity press charge for book creation and takes a percentage of any book sales.
    • Look for knowledgeable editors when you write a book. You'll get better value for the cost, and the end product will be superior. I recommend hiring your book editor independent of the ebook publisher. For the most professional book possible, avoid skimping on editing or cover design. Find a professional editor who is also an accomplished author, especially if you use a vanity press. Vanity presses charge for book creation and take a percentage of any book sales.
    • For the most professional book possible, hire the best editor you can afford. If you use a vanity press, which charges for book creation and takes a percentage of sales, hire your editor independent of the ebook publisher. You'll receive better value for the cost, and the end product will be a superior book. For best results, find a professional editor who is also an accomplished author. These author/editors understand narrative structure and will address much more than grammar and clarity. To save time and money, hire this person long before you're ready to publish, and receive feedback on early drafts, when you can more easily resolve problems.

    Any editor can go through your manuscript and correct spelling and grammatical errors, but a good book is more than a series of grammatically correct lines. In the example above, notice how both the unedited and the copyedited paragraph sounds disjointed and repeats the word "book" too often. In addition, the first sentence of the paragraph, the topic sentence, leads readers to believe that the paragraph will be about finding a knowledgeable editor, when in fact the paragraph is about hiring the best editor the author can afford—a subtle but important difference. Each of these issues contributes to the amateur feel of the text. The third paragraph is stylistically edited to reflect the necessary changes. The paragraph is more fully developed, and sentences are combined, rewritten and reorganized for a mmore pleasing effect.

  2. Note that if you have completed a manuscript without the aid of a substantive editor, a manuscript evaluation is a good first step toward assessing the readiness of the text, and will alert you to issues that cannot be resolved by copyediting. Approach the evaluation in steps, just as editing should be approached in steps.

    A full manuscript evaluation is likely to cost in the $500-$1000 range and will evaluate all of the most important elements of the story. But a full evaluation is only necessary if the manuscript has reached a high level of readiness. To save money, begin by asking for an evaluation on the first three chapters. A good editor or mentor can point to strengths and weaknesses that will run through the entire manuscript. Once you know what to look for, you can correct throughout. I can usually provide a three-chapter evaluation for under $300. For $99 I provide a Quick Look, which assesses 50 qualities in your first three chapters, and for $49 I use a Flash Assessment to provide feedback on the opening pages only. Any one of these assessments will point to problematic issues.

    Only when your manuscript is well edited, should you think about publishing. BookClubBuddy.com the sister site to this one, actively seeks to promote books. Yet 9 out of 10 books are turned down because they fail to meet normal editing standards. If we're turning away people willing to pay for the privilege of promotion, how many people will be willing to buy the book?

  3. Use Smashwords.com to both publish and distribute your ebook to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store.
  4. Books often are judged by their covers, so don't scrimp on cover art. Affordable cover art (under $400) is available from The Book Cover Cafe. Ebooks require front cover art only.
  5. For those on a very tight budget, 52 Novels can design your ebook for $250 or less. The service includes embedding your cover art and providing you with both an ePub and Kindle file of your manuscript.
  6. Publicity will be an ongoing challenge and is necessary to sell books. Publicity and marketing is too big a topic to cover here, but press releases are effective in getting your name out there. If you find the thought of writing one intimidating, and again the quality of the product will determine its success, you can pay to have the distributor write one for you. Nationwide distribution will cost between $300 and $500 dollars.Two companies distribute most private sector press releases:

    I've used both of these services myself and have been happy with the exposure. E-Releases even provides a free booklet to help those who have never written a press release: FREE 150-Page eBook! Beginner's Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases

  7. Another inexpensive way to have readers discover your books is to promote your title on book blogs, or on book discovery sites such as BookClubBuddy.com. BookClubBuddy.com is the sister site to be-a-better-writer.com, and I founded it to promote my own books and the books of my friends. It grew from there to promote hundreds of well known and lesser known authors side by side.

If you don't have the money for all of this, try raising the cash through crowdfunding sites such as RocketHub.com or IndieGoGo. To be taken seriously by strangers, you'll need more than a great idea—you'll succeed better at this if you have some strong sample scenes and can show that you've studied the art and craft of fiction and know what you're doing.

To see an example of a professional author who raised funds successfully, visit Leo McKay's project page for his new novel Roll Up the Rim, or search crowdfunding sites for current novel projects.

It takes a lot of effort and expense to do everything a traditional publisher normally does for an author. However, increasingly, dedicated, hard working authors are making a success their self publishing efforts.

See this superb article about Canadian ebook author Martin Crosbie.

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