When I started working in book publishing, eBooks were not around just yet. When they did come around, everyone was very curious and maybe a little scared (especially those who rely on people buying print!). What exactly is an eBook and how is it different than a regular digital file – like a pdf?
Well, first off – eBook is short for ‘electronic book’. You would create an eBook to be read on electronic devices like computers or eReaders (Kindle, Nook, iPad and so on). This works best with text based documents. The conversion basically puts all this text into one seamless page. Your end user will have the freedom (on their reader) to adjust the text to their liking – big, small, blue, whatever.
You can have a document with charts, graphs, images etc converted to an eBook file too. These elements are usually captured as a ‘flat image’ in the document. This is to prevent things from being jumbled on a reader. For instance, a chart has to be an ‘image’ otherwise it will look all funky when someone is minimizing or maximizing on their eReader screen. You don’t want loose text in the chart just running all over the page and looking wonky – now do you? Jumbled, Funky, Wonky = BAD.
When eBooks started to gain popularity, everyone wanted to invent an eReader device – it was the hot new item. This caused a problem because they all required different formats – which was a super PITA when trying to do the conversion on your book. For instance, you couldn’t open the same file on an iPad as you could the Nook. Eventually, everyone got smart and the ePub file emerged as the universal format to these readers. Except for Amazon of course… They like to be special and require their own format – mobi.
There are companies out there that can do the conversion for you. You provide a file (like a word or pdf) and they will send you the ePub and Mobi format – for a small or large fee. Your price will depend on how many pages, images, links etc – basically the complexity of the book determines the price. I had my conversion done by www.eBooks2go.com. If you have a more complicated file, it would be best to let a professional handle this for you. They will create a nice TOC and have everything link back and forth and make the eBook file very user friendly. Professionals like eBooks2go also offer distribution to various online stores like Amazon, iTunes and B&N.
For the sake of comparison (and for my blog), I tried Smashwords to convert as well. An author mentioned Smashwords in my book and once I learned more about it, I was intrigued – mostly because of their distribution options. I was not too impressed with the look of their website. It is very easy to navigate and self explanatory but it was a bit plain and ho-hum. The creator of Smashwords also published books relating to the site. These books are tutorials on using the site to the full extent, setting up files correctly and marketing your book through Smashwords – genius.
Anyway, this site has a free converter. I would only recommend this for basic docs with just text. Although the conversion is free, it can garner up some frustrations. I have my doc uploaded to their site now and it is currently being ‘reviewed’ for their premium catalog. The premium catalog consists of numerous distribution channels and libraries. This is what I find fascinating about Smashwords. The more wheels you have out their cranking away, the better – especially with little to no effort from you (the author). Some people call this lazy, I call it efficient. You want to have as many channels as you possibly can feeding the beast because that is what it’s all about – exposure and sales.
Many people ask me what to price their book. Honest answer – I have no idea. It is up to the author to research similar books and see what people are paying and why. Always leave room for discounts and promotions to build interest and always have a call to action (2 days only – 25% off). On Smashwords, you have a personal dashboard and can add coupons and do sampling. A sampling would be letting people download 15 or 20% of the book at no cost. This can get them to buy the book when they otherwise would have not. It is a good idea to play around with this and see what works. I will have mine on Smashwords for 99 cents at first. Personally, I will always buy something I find the slightest bit interesting when it is just a buck – most other people will too. It is much easier to get $1 from 5000 people then $10 from 500 people.
Unfortunately, everyone will want a piece of the pie and why not – you are using these channels to sell the book so they want a cut. And yes, they are all different. Here is an example of some fees. The company distributing it (like Smashwords or eBooks2go) will also take 10-15% for managing the accounts. Not a bad deal really when you do nothing. Hopefully it results in a check coming to you every quarter.
Amazon B&N Apple
$1-2.99 65% 60% 30%
$3-9.99 30% 35% 30%
$10-199 65% 60% 30%
As a publisher, it is important to provide your readers with options. The printed book will never go away but the younger generations are all about the devices now. I can’t really judge – we have plenty lying around the house too.
Check out my previous blogs on press releases and working with a printer. If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted.
As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.
…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.