Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Books Businesses DRM The Almighty Buck

The Ease of Publishing an Ebook 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the decreasing-the-tree-bodycount dept.
ISoldat53 writes "This article describes how easy it is to publish an ebook. The author details the costs to the writer for a major publishing house to publish a book and the savings to the writer by self-publishing. He looks to make the same profit selling the book at $2.99 on Amazon as he would going though a traditional publishing process. The book is formatted only for the Kindle right now, but the author explains how it can be converted for other readers, since there's no DRM."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Ease of Publishing an Ebook

Comments Filter:
  • by hey (83763) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @04:40PM (#33919758) Journal

    is something that publishes add too.

    • Re:Quality control (Score:4, Insightful)

      by julesh (229690) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @04:46PM (#33919810)

      Indeed. And while J A Konrath is actually a reasonably well-known writer who writes (I'm led to believe) fairly good books, the *vast* majority of e-book self-publishers aren't in his league, so his experiences don't really translate to other people trying to get into the business. Konrath had a run of good-selling traditionally-published books before he started self-publishing, thus managed to build a fan base off the back of the marketing the publishers did for him. This doesn't apply to most of the people who read his articles and decide that maybe self publishing a novel is the way forward for them. It isn't, except in unusual circumstances. Konrath exemplifies one of those; there are others (e.g. you're famous for some reason other than your writing, you have a ready-made large network of people you'll be able to sell to, etc.).

      • by kenh (9056)

        I agree with you, except that last little bit:

        "e.g. You're famous for some reason other than your writing"

        I suspect people who are fans of your other (non-writing) work would want the physical 'souvenir' of your writing to display. I'm thinking of, say, an actor or musician's 'kiss and tell' book - a fan would want the book on the coffee table, not a title on an ebook app

    • by PatPending (953482) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:02PM (#33919884)
      is something that publishes add too.

      +1 for unintended irony.

    • by hcdejong (561314)

      Also the whole technical side of publishing. Sure, anyone can do 'Save as PDF' in Word, but doing it right is nontrivial.

      • by Ruie (30480)

        Also the whole technical side of publishing. Sure, anyone can do 'Save as PDF' in Word, but doing it right is nontrivial.

        Indeed, you need TeX for that ;)

      • It's trivial in OpenOffice Writer.
  • Missing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by neonv (803374)

    Important things a publisher provides:

    1) Editing

    2) Marketing

    3) Cover and format

    4) Industry connections

    to name a few. It's possible to publish without a publisher for sure, but it's also easy to make your own band, doesn't mean you'll be rich and famous.

    • by garcia (6573)

      It's possible to publish without a publisher for sure, but it's also easy to make your own band, doesn't mean you'll be rich and famous.

      Yeah that was before the Internet music explosion. Now you can become famous on YouTube and next thing you know be vaulted to levels unseen by many mainstream bands who were on the radio with one song.

      • Re:Missing (Score:4, Insightful)

        by julesh (229690) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @04:58PM (#33919862)

        Now you can become famous on YouTube and next thing you know be vaulted to levels unseen by many mainstream bands who were on the radio with one song.

        Yeah. And you could win the lottery, too.

        (Seriously: how many people post videos of themselves performing on youtube? How many become megastars because of it? I can think of maybe 3 examples...)

        • Or people could try to get a big music corp to take them on and promote them.

          Yeah. And you could win the lottery, too.

          Seriously: how many people try to break into the big music industry? How many become megastars because of it? a handful a year?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by linzeal (197905)
          I'm part of two bands in my spare time, who are in all honesty rather mediocre for our area and genre but still manage to pull in collectively a little over 1000 a month in sales online. Even with just a few fans nowadays you can usually make beer and pizza money if you don't sound like complete ass.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hrmm...

      1) Editing: Have you read any recent books? Between word usage, entire sentences cut off, and flat basic gammar errors many newer novels don't appear to have anything beyond the basic spell check run, if that. Add that to the mistakes added on purpose to "detect illicit copies" and it's painful to read some books. Not just small publishers either - larger houses such as Tor have this problem.

      2) Marketing: In this case it'll be handled, for free, but your readership. Get some decent reviews on Ama

      • Re:Missing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:24PM (#33920002)

        The big difference: you actually have to write a good book for this to work.
        If you can get a big company behind you mediocre is good enough.

      • Re:Missing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mopower70 (250015) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @07:26PM (#33920702) Homepage

        Hrmm...

        1) Editing: Have you read any recent books? Between word usage, entire sentences cut off, and flat basic gammar errors many newer novels don't appear to have anything beyond the basic spell check run, if that. Add that to the mistakes added on purpose to "detect illicit copies" and it's painful to read some books. Not just small publishers either - larger houses such as Tor have this problem.

        The fact that you don't know the difference between editing and copy-editing speaks volumes about what you don't know about publishing. Editing is a valuable contribution to the publishing process and can make the difference between a mid-shelf and blockbuster book. I don't know what books you've been reading, but aside from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", I can't remember the last time I read the kinds of errors you describe. Outside of a self-published book, that is.

        2) Marketing: In this case it'll be handled, for free, but your readership. Get some decent reviews on Amazon, end up on their "You might also like" list, and things go from there. Classic word of mouth only with a much larger potential base. If you get mentioned on a blog with a decent reader base things will move even quicker.

        No. No it won't. Marketing is anything but free and can even fail disastrously for a well-written, well-edited book. Most people who read books and pass it on word of mouth don't do so through the comments on Amazon or any blog. There are obvious exceptions: technical books or certain areas of non-fiction, but in general, people who read don't care what Joe Dirt has to say about an author.

        3) Cover/format: Format can be handled by any modern word processor with templates (search online - free ones abound, for everything from novels to screenplays), and cover can be done for a small fee to a decent artist or (if you have them) friends with talent. Why pay the publisher rate?

        For the same reason you can tell when your local car dealership's daughter is the model for his commercial and his cousin is behind the camera. If your expertise is writing - which it obviously is or you wouldn't be trying to publish a book, right? Right? - what makes you think you're also an expert marketer/artist/graphic design/layout artist?

        4) Connections: See 2. This, again, is obviated by skipping the industry entirely.

        Much like the music business, it's much easier for amateur writers to get their stuff in front of the public. If you're decent, get yourself on even one decently read blog and you'll get yourself started. Yes, there's a lot of "if" coming off this plan but it's just as bad with an agent/publishing house, only you're less likely to get screwed with a bad contract.

        Again, no. No, no, no. Music is disposable. It takes two minutes to listen to a song, and probably even less to decide if you like it. Or, you may follow the critic's advice and listen to it at least seven times before deciding. Total investment: 15 minutes. Reading takes time. It takes an investment. It takes a commitment from the reader. Most people, especially voracious readers aren't going to waste their time on something that hasn't been vetted by someone who knows what they're talking about: a trusted friend or a publishing house. Publishers are the front-line against the sea of crap that people like you think requires nothing but exposure to make successful.

        One final note: if you self-publish, good luck ever getting a reputable publishing company to look twice at you. Yes, it can happen. I was able to find seven cases in the history of publishing where it happened, though I personally know of three cases where the author was rejected explicitly for it.

        • by MrAndrews (456547) *

          The fact that you don't know the difference between editing and copy-editing speaks volumes about what you don't know about publishing. Editing is a valuable contribution to the publishing process and can make the difference between a mid-shelf and blockbuster book.

          The trick of publishing right now is that editing (and to a lesser extent, copy editing) is much less common than it used to be. Editors pick up titles, give them minimal once-overs and turn them over to production because the money isn't in fixing, it's in producing, and they want to keep their jobs. There may be a few editors who have the power to really involve themselves, but they're the exception and not the rule anymore.

          Marketing is anything but free and can even fail disastrously for a well-written, well-edited book.

          Very true, but again, the reality is that except for a small percentage of books p

          • by Compaqt (1758360)

            The latest trend in covers is to have a picture of something totally unrelated to the subject.

            O'Reilly is the canonical example, but there are others (can't remember) in the tech arena that feature, e.g., Buddhist and other temples on the cover. Some Packt covers features color pics of wild animals.

            A picture plus the title in a large font doesn't seem so difficult.

            And if you're not doing this as your main living, it's not really a big deal.

        • The fact that you don't know the difference between editing and copy-editing speaks volumes about what you don't know about publishing. Editing is a valuable contribution to the publishing process and can make the difference between a mid-shelf and blockbuster book. I don't know what books you've been reading, but aside from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", I can't remember the last time I read the kinds of errors you describe. Outside of a self-published book, that is.

          The last several in the Honorverse

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            These are big-budget books; failure to catch errors that are obvious on (at least my) first reading seems a significant disservice to those paying the bills.

            I'm afraid these are not big-budget. They are published by a small-time science fiction publisher, not known for their quality control, they are in no sense big-budget. I've read most of the Baen books, and frankly they're at the pulp end of Science Fiction, and are probably produced on a shoe-string. This shows in the cover graphics (very low budget)

        • ebooks are a paradigm change, just like the Guttenburg press. Hint:there were many people who thought that was a bad idea at the time too!. The establishment always FEARS and DERIDES change.
          • by hitmark (640295)

            Because the status quo results in a, for them, positive money flow. Change is in essence uncertain. This is the root of the innovators dilemma.

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          Well, it depends on your goals.

          For example, if you're a college professor, and your goal is the learning for learning's sake and the distribution of knowledge, and society is already paying you for that, it might be OK to make 50 cents per book, basically the same as you would for traditional publishing.

          Re: editing. Take advantage of colleagues or the Thinking in Java [mindview.net] model.

          copy editing: blog readers/TIJ model/pay someone.

          marketing: depends on your goals. If you're not trying to become rich and famous, you

        • by kenh (9056)

          One final note: if you self-publish, good luck ever getting a reputable publishing company to look twice at you. Yes, it can happen. I was able to find seven cases in the history of publishing where it happened, though I personally know of three cases where the author was rejected explicitly for it.

          That is very interesting - I wouldn't have thought of that, but thinking it through it does make a certain sense; on the one hand, I could see submitting a self-published book as a tour-de-force example of what

      • by znerk (1162519)

        1) Editing: Have you read any recent books? Between word usage, entire sentences cut off, and flat basic gammar errors many newer novels don't appear to have anything beyond the basic spell check run, if that. Add that to the mistakes added on purpose to "detect illicit copies" and it's painful to read some books. Not just small publishers either - larger houses such as Tor have this problem.

        Gods, yes. I don't recall which book it was, but one of the stories I read recently had the phrase "its soft pedals giving off a gentle fragrance", or some such, and it knocked my suspension of disbelief completely out of the story. It was like hitting an unexpected speed-bump while doing 45mph.

        Oh, and fixed that for you. Giggle.

        • by Legion303 (97901)

          "I don't recall which book it was, but one of the stories I read recently had the phrase 'its soft pedals giving off a gentle fragrance', or some such"

          I don't see the problem. (In the absence of further information, I am assuming that the author was describing a bike that had recently crashed into a mint patch.)

    • THIS. A publisher gives you more than just the book on the shelf. Also, more people buy physical books than eBooks. I don't buy this in the slightest. The guy would get marketing and physical copies through a publisher, perhaps some critiquing and editing to boot. You will not sell anywhere NEAR what you'd get in a physical format when selling it electronically. Sure, he gets to pocket more this way, but I seriously doubt that the higher numbers of a physical publication are being considered.
      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        THAT. I think proponents and opponents of this trend might not exactly be hearing what the other is saying. I think the point is that people CAN self-publish, not that it's always "better" (for whom?) or more profitable to do so.

    • by toriver (11308)

      So what? Only 10% of even SIGNED authors manage to make a living at only that. Most authors, whether they get through the eye of the needle at a publisher or not (e.g. Harry Potter was rejected by five publishers before a small one took the chance) have to have a "real job" to actually make any money. And the royalties are relatively small.

      With electronic self-distribution and channels like Facebook and Twitter you can make just as much money without lining the pockets of any in-betweeners between you and t

  • by ed (79221) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @04:49PM (#33919824) Homepage

    I notice he talks about controlling the book forever, so he would also like a copyright term of infinity?

    • by julesh (229690)

      I notice he talks about controlling the book forever, so he would also like a copyright term of infinity?

      He probably subscribes to the belief that any time after he dies might as well be forever. His book's copyright term is 95 years; he's unlikely to live that long.

      • EU has copyright that is life + 70 years - so for anyone living; its an eternity.

    • I notice he talks about controlling the book forever, so he would also like a copyright term of infinity?

      Is his book about cryogenic freezing?
      It's logical that the first person to live well beyond a normal copyright term would also want to write a book about doing it.
      Just sayin'.

  • Slashdot effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by burisch_research (1095299) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @04:51PM (#33919836)

    Seems that getting news of your new book onto the front page of Slashdot will help enormously with sales.

  • 2.99? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neumayr (819083) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @04:54PM (#33919850)
    Not that I've read all of the article, but 2.99 seems too cheap. I mean, there is a correlation between price and perceived value, and selling a novel this cheap at release doesn't seem like a good idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PatPending (953482)

      Didn't some trade organization advocate the same argument about $0.99 music downloads?

      Anyway if you do take the time to read TFA you will discover something interesting about their net profit. (It would appear they chose the price based on what their net profit would have been had they used the traditional paradigm, then factored out the costs of the third party.)

      This is genuinely fair pricing to my way of thinking.

      Of course if you want to pay more, you are free to send it to the authors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Indeed, and what's brilliant about it is that while he's making the same amount per book that he would've previously, it's almost certain that he'll end up selling quite a few more than previously.
      • I mean, there is a correlation between price and perceived value

        Didn't some trade organization advocate the same argument about $0.99 music downloads?

        "You get what you pay for." Some goods are more desirable simply because they cost more. All other things being equal, and with incomplete information about the quality of a work, a consumer is likely to assume that a good with a lower sticker price has a lower sticker price because it is the inferior good. See also Veblen good [wikipedia.org].

      • by kenh (9056)

        Taken the other way, $2.99 is no more than many magazines, the decision to purchase the book at that price is low risk. esp. if you are a fan of the author's previous works. I'd like to see him ramp the pricing up for the same book in actual printed book format, from say Amazon, Lulu.com, etc. comparing costs. To generate the same profit per item, what would the 80,000 word book have to sell for (omiting his fetishist "bonus material" only available on the Kindle)? That would be an interesting comparison.

    • by Garwulf (708651)

      Well, for a book that is only an e-book and for the labour that went into it (as Konrath describes), it sounds about right - he'll probably hit a good price point to move plenty of copies with that.

      There is a correlation between price and perceived value, but when you're dealing with the online, there is also a history of what you could term as "free swag." When it comes to the 'net, the cheaper you can move something, the better. The big question is how much does it cost you, and how much do you have to

    • by Legion303 (97901)

      That's a great price point to me. It did a lot less damage to the perceived value than the title did, at least for me.

  • by Alaren (682568) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:03PM (#33919888)

    J.A. Konrath started in traditional publishing. The one thing you'll never see him admit is that the platform he launched himself from was built on his first publishers' traditional investment in making him a better writer through the editing process, and marketing him as a writer through traditional outlets.

    These days, he markets his books by pretending that he's some kind of crusader for the writer's fair share. So yeah, he gets a bigger cut now--but it turns out that the percentage is only part of the equation, and the other is total sales.

    If you start out self-publishing, you would likely take many, many years to reach the level Konrath started at based on his already-existing career. Don't pay any attention to this guy.

    • by batkiwi (137781) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:00PM (#33920188)

      If you start out trying to get a big publishing deal with a big6 house you would likely take many, many years to even get a legitimate read of your draft, let alone a single book published. And after you get that first book published you'll likely not make any money apart from your advance. 5 books later you may be sitting pretty, but only if the publisher decides to non-publish your latest effort because they have too many books in X genre this quarter, and the bigger fish gets more attention.

      Don't pay any attention to any author out there.

      • My wife is 29. She is an author and she makes a modest living for our family of five (soon six!). Although I am a lawyer, my only employment at present is handling the "family business," both because there is plenty for me to do and because it is more rewarding than typical lawyer-work. Now, my wife is a New York Times best-selling children's author, so she's doing better than most writers. And while she made it there faster than most writers, you're correct that it takes some time--often, a long time.

        • by batkiwi (137781)

          Self publishing is only really viable the last 2 or so years, so there's going to be ZERO stats on the subject, but I wonder if that's actually true at all?

          Take 100 starting out authors today (50 self publishing, 50 submitting drafts to big publishing houses). Check their average earnings from books in 2, 5, and 10 years.

          You really think the ones just starting submitting, as opposed to publishing NOW (and for cheap), will wind up better on average?

          Do you actually think that a single author out of those 50

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      And if you start out using traditional publishing, it won't take many many years to reach the level Konrath is at?

    • For all we know the publisher made him a worse writing due to shaping him to the image the publisher set out for him.

      Editing works both ways, and considering we only observe the end result and cannot redo the process to the observe the other possible result the argument that the publisher made him a better writer is moot.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      What makes a person a good writer is doing a lot of writing and having to respond to criticism. There's nothing about it which requires an editor, some people are just naturally gifted for telling stories and really only need to know how it's coming across.

      The book industry really doesn't work the way that you think it does. They invest in order to get a product out of it, and if you're not relatively close already they probably won't sign you.

      If you're already that close, then there's no reason why a
      • by Alaren (682568) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @08:08PM (#33920886)

        There's nothing about it which requires an editor, some people are just naturally gifted for telling stories and really only need to know how it's coming across.

        Is there a polite way to say "you clearly have no idea what you're talking about?"

        The book industry really doesn't work the way that you think it does.

        Seeing as how my wife is a New York Times best-selling author, and I am the lawyer who stays at home to handle the boring business end portions of her career... I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that I actually do know a little bit about the process.

        They invest in order to get a product out of it, and if you're not relatively close already they probably won't sign you. If you're already that close, then there's no reason why a few neutral friends or acquaintances couldn't do the same thing.

        Well, I can't speak for publishing generally, but in the children's market, most purchases are between 40% and 60% done. That's not to say the books aren't written from beginning to end--that's to say 1/3 to 2/3 of the original text will be replaced or altered before publication.

        What's more, I've seen how different editors edit, and I can assure you that it is as much a skill as writing a book in the first place. A good editor can turn a good story into a great one--or, more often, a mediocre story into something at least worth printing. Your book-loving cousin who once read slush for the community college's sci-fi magazine will not make your book better the way a skilled editor can.

        Of course, every author's process is different and your assumptions about publishing are basically reasonable--you've clearly given the issue a good five or ten minutes' thought. But you are simply mistaken about what goes into creating a marketable book.

        • by Ostracus (1354233)

          I think the more insightful question when articles like these come up, is why does the audience not understand the processes behind the creation of the entertainment they enjoy? Today it's books. Tomorrow it could be music. The following day, movies complete with the "down with the man" and "buggy whip" posts. Is there really anything insightful about basically saying,"I like cheap stuff and 'the man' is keeping that from happening".

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Reminds me of Schwarzenegger going round schools telling kids not to use ze shderoids. [mesomorphosis.com]
  • by dcollins (135727) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:11PM (#33919930) Homepage

    FTA: "Publishers also do promotion and marketing, though I haven't seen much of this for ebooks. Drawing on our fan bases, we sent out 260 advance reading copies of 'Draculas'..."

    The undercurrent to all these "internet for the win" stories is the same. This guy's primary advantage is that he's succeeded with major book publishers in the past. This gave him marketing, promotion, name recognition, fan base, contacts with Amazon and Huffington post to get the promotions for this project. Once you have the major-industry name recognition, then it's relatively easy to spin off and use the price advantages of the Internet to do your own thing.

    However, the vast majority of EBook self-publishers will not have this advantage, and will not have any chance of leveraging the same success or payoff for the last two month of this guy's labor (which is the entirety it took him to co-write and market this book). In addition, it's quite likely that there's a limited window of opportunity for this -- as book publishers become aware of the "spin-off" effect, it's quite likely that they'll start demanding more restrictive career-long contracts from new up-and-coming authors (same as how the music industry now wants "360 deal" chunks of a performer's outside concert, merchandise sales, etc.)

  • While mostly I think books pay for large building, fancy cars, and drugs for the executives, which is really no different than any other industry, from what I see the one legitimate service they do provide is objective editing.

    Someone I knew self published in the early days of his trend. The book while very good, was not up to standards of a professionally published books. Way more spelling and grammer errors than in edited book. Way more material than needed to be there. All in all, though he had an

    • by belmolis (702863)

      Another service provided by publishers that can be important is book design. It takes some expertise and talent to make a book attractive and readable. A good designer can make a noticeable improvement in the work of a decent writer, but most important, he or she can prevent the utter disaster that a fair percentage of authors will produce. The wrong fonts, too much boldface, poorly chosen margins, poor placement of illustrations, etc. can make a book unattractive and even difficult to read. Many good writ

  • by Garwulf (708651) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:35PM (#33920068) Homepage

    I never like articles like this - it reminds me a bit too much of the earlier adopter chatter back in 2000 when my own e-book was published (and, despite having everything going for me except not being Stephen King, proved to have an almost non-existent market). Certainly Konrath is describing some benefits to self publishing, so long as you have the savvy and editing skill to pull it off. But when it comes to trumpeting e-books as a better way in general than the printed book, he's giving a very skewed picture.

    Will he get a greater percentage of the royalties by self publishing an e-book through Amazon? Absolutely. Part of self publishing is keeping all the profits. Will he make more money than he would releasing a printed book?

    That, however, is a much different question. And for that, you have to run the numbers.

    Depending on the time of year, the total American book market (net sales) can be anywhere from around $450 million to $1.5 billion per month (there are large peaks and valleys, which is why you get the huge variations). The e-book market occupies around $22 million of this per month (it, oddly enough, has a general but very slight upwards slope, and does NOT have large peaks and valleys). As far as I recall, the audio book will take up around $15 million or so per month, but that's not a number I pay too much attention to, so don't quote me on it. So, for every dollar earned by an e-book, print books will earn anywhere from $20 to $65, depending on the time of year.

    Now, these are all very rough figures. The Association of American Publishers tracks this in far more detail on a month-by-month basis. The point is, though, that while a well-established author with a loyal fanbase can mitigate a large portion of this disparity, an average book published only as an e-book can deprive itself of over 90% of its potential income.

    (That, for example, is why in my business I use e-books mainly for promotional stuff - they just don't have a large enough market base to support them outside of marketing for what I do.)

    So, will Konrath keep a greater percentage of the profit per book? Absolutely. Will he make more money than he would publishing a print volume? Highly unlikely.

    • "Will he make more money than he would releasing a printed book?"

      That is only one source for revenue, the others being: the extended copyright length; audio book sales; and movie rights.

      There are other factors too. For example, even though the book sales may be lackluster (whether ebook or traditional), they could still make money from movie rights. And since they own the all the rights, they'd get all the revenue.

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        Maybe I mis-understand the publishing business, but isn't a huge part of what published do is to *publicize* the works they are publishing? I doubt most independent authors can do the marketing that an established publisher can, and even the very act of getting a dead-tree book on the shelves of bookstore, department stores (target, walmart, et al.) is promotion - people who are in the store browsing, might find your book when they otherwise wouldn't. Publishers can put money into ad campaigns, their PR peo

        • by Garwulf (708651) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:57PM (#33920562) Homepage

          That is a part of it, and large publishers can do much more on that than smaller publishers. However, there is advertising out there. Every time my publishing company publishes a book, I pay for an advertisement that goes out to tens of thousands of bookstores and libraries (I also do a decent amount of advertising with free online samples, book reviews, etc.).

          But, actually, that's not the big problem with self-publishing a book.

          Self-publishing tends to have a stigma against it, but that stigma is there for good reason - and that reason is that 95% of self published books are utter crap that didn't get past the gatekeepers in the major publishers due to basic quality control. There is, unfortunately, an entire industry based on publishing writers who have more money than brains or talent - these are called vanity presses. Most of these books are terrible, and the publisher in question makes thousands of dollars on the fees they charge to the writer before so much as a single copy is printed.

          (Just as a rule, the money flows to the author, not the other way around.)

          Another problem with self publishing is that most authors are not the best editors of their own work. In fact, very few writers can both write and edit - they're different enough skillsets that there is that little overlap. But even when a writer can, they tend to be workmanlike at best. This is because if a writer writes paragraph X, that is supposed to say Y, that writer will always know that Y is the message. Unfortunately, paragraph X might not have actually said Y, and because the writer automatically reads Y into the paragraph, s/he doesn't catch the error. In short, the author is just too close to their own work to be the best editor of that work.

          Those are actually the biggest problems with self-publishing, and why most self-published books fail. If you look at the self-published market, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the majority of the people who managed to make both self-publishing and e-book publishing successful are the ones who started in traditional publishing, built a readership there, learned the business as they did it, and then transitioned.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by John Hasler (414242)

            Most self-published books fail because most books fail. The difference is that electronic self-publishing is easy and inexpensive so lots of books that would have stayed in the author's trunk under the old system get a chance. Most fail, of course, but some will succeed that would have never been given a chance under the old system.

          • by martyros (588782)

            Another problem with self publishing is that most authors are not the best editors of their own work. In fact, very few writers can both write and edit - they're different enough skillsets that there is that little overlap. But even when a writer can, they tend to be workmanlike at best. This is because if a writer writes paragraph X, that is supposed to say Y, that writer will always know that Y is the message. Unfortunately, paragraph X might not have actually said Y, and because the writer automatically

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KingFrog (1888802)
      Konrath has posted on this topic repeatedly. He makes nearly twice what he did with paper books, in a dollars/month basis. More importantly, he makes what he considers to be a fair amount to live quite comfortably on, and feels that he owes something to the readership - that is, a quality / price point equation they can't get with printed material. As long as he can live well on this, he doesn't care whether he could make that much more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think you're ignoring a simple fact: some of us buy more e-books than normal books, and even go to such length as not reading printed books anymore given the choice. Me, personally, if I have the choice between a printed copy and an e-book, I'm going with the e-book. When I shop for books, I start with e-books. Because I want to know what I can read on my preferred medium. If I find nothing (unlikely) I may revert to paper.

      So, what I'm saying is this: If a thousand people buy my e-book, and they
      • I should've been more clear: What I meant was if a thousand people were interested in my book, but only wanted it on e-book and not printed.
      • Me, personally, if I have the choice between a printed copy and an e-book, I'm going with the e-book. When I shop for books, I start with e-books.

        Doesn't that depend on the type of e-book and the e-reader? For instance, a book about programming, when read on the Kindle (or any other e-reader lacking copy/paste/edit) seems practically useless. Or a book on Renaissance art -- again, practically useless with a monochrome e-reader. (Not just for its lack of color but its small screen.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Garwulf (708651)

        No, I'm sorry, I'm afraid you're the one making the assumption. You're assuming that it's an either/or when it comes to e-book and print book editions, rather than an "and." The figures I'm working from are for the entire market, and in a lot of places and genres, there are concurrent print and e-book editions (in fact, these days that's in many cases the rule rather than the exception).

        So, if a thousand people want the book as an e-book and not a printed book, then they buy the e-book instead of the prin

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        And in 50 years it might be the case that an ebook would be the logical choice.

        Right now, ebooks are maybe 4% of the publishing market. And this is with Amazon having a list of 100 books that are free to download on the Kindle immediately. And these aren't just recycled Project Gutenberg titles - there are new authors with some OK books in the list.

        So that means that 96% of the people in today's world are buying physical books. If you are thinking about publishing a book with mass appeal, then restricting

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          So that means that 96% of the people in today's world are buying physical books.

          For what it is worth, I would imagine it is even higher. Likely, ebooks are purchased mainly by people who also buy physical books, so it is a supplement to their book collections, not a replacement of. I would imagine there are very few people who only buy ebooks (not counting piracy and free books), perhaps as low as 1%.

          No matter how cool a reading medium gets, it will always be an uphill battle to beat the tactile, analog f

    • Bookstores EVERYWHERE are closing! Everyday, in every city another bookstore closes and there aren't any new one's opening! The large chains are going bankrupt as they scramble to figure out how to eek out revenue from declining sales. eBooks are the future.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Garwulf (708651)

        Um, no - ONLINE sales are a large part of the future. But even your claim of bookstores closing every day doesn't take a couple of things into account:

        1. The North American economy has not yet recovered from the recession, so sales are down across the board. Five years from now, it will be a different story (I hope).

        2. In over a decade, the e-book has barely managed to carve out 5% of the total book market, and it only manages that on months where book sales are low.

        E-books will have a place in the future

  • Something I've noticed in the latest iWork software it is extremely easy to export to epub, which then can be read by a number of eReader apps and on the i devices. But writing and publishing isn't what takes up a lot of time and effort for publishers: it's the editing and type setting that is expensive. I have a client and good friend who is in the publishing business and has been for 25 years. We use him for publishing our technical documentation and most of his time/fees are taking what we wrote in wh

  • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:38PM (#33920454) Homepage Journal

    Traditional publishers act as brokers, bringing the written word to those who want to read.

    They sift through the junk so I don't have to.

    Self-publishing works well for:
    * Authors with an established reputation in that genre
    * The rare person who can act as his own editor. Hint - if you think that's you, it isn't.
    * Anyone who isn't motivated by finances and who doesn't need the marketing services of a reputable publisher.

    The first group we already know.

    I don't know anyone in the 2nd group.

    The 3rd group includes people who traditionally self-publish, such as universities and religious organizations, the traditional novelty press market, and niche publications which are one step above the novelty press market in quality but where the author won't mind if nobody buys or reads his material.

    I would put most bloggers and others who publish non-tolled Internet content in the third group.

    • Traditional publishers act as brokers, bringing the written word to those who want to read.

      Traditional publishers acted as manufacturers, fabricating and distributing physical objects. This entailed allocation of scarce resources, use of expensive capital equipment, and the risk that the 10,000 or so copies that an econmical print run required might all comeback to be pulped. In this environment it made sense for the publisher to own the book as he had a great deal invested in it. With ebooks, however, t

    • Just as there are 'self-published' authors there are freelance editors as well. There seems to be a disconnect that one assumes just because someone is a self-publisher that they don't hire an editor. This criticism seems like a petty and desperate attempt at justifying the current publisher's monopoly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Garwulf (708651)

        It isn't - it really isn't.

        The problem is that most of the vanity press industry is very much a scam. They tell writers that they will be professionally edited and published, for a nice low fee of $5000, or something like that. Then, if they even do an editing pass, it's a very limited and cursory one. They're already thousands of dollars in the black for the book, so there isn't any real need to make it more successful.

        So, the author - who even though s/he was told there would be a professional editor i

  • Well, publishing your own eBook is a bit like playing the lottery. You hope to write a book that will make it big much in the same way you hope to buy a lottery ticket that wins the PowerBall or MegaMillions. If you treat it as simply an interesting project and do it solely has a hobby without expectations, writing your own eBook can a rewarding experience. At the very least the act of writing can exercise the brain in a way that daily life cannot provide. I like the fact that Amazon provides the abilit
  • Movies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @07:01PM (#33920580)
    YouTube became the way for ordinary people to create their own movies, videos, etc and have an outlet for other people to view them. The Kindle and other platforms do much of the same thing but for reading material. Some YouTubers have lucked out big time while others simply enjoy having an outlet to distribute their media. I think people are being harsh on the author of this article. I think the article simply was designed to give people an idea of how to publish when they want to do so. The author makes no promises of riches.
    • by kenh (9056)

      YouTube provides free access to content - will Amazon provide free passage for self-ePublished authors? I doubt it, since AMazon will incur a very real data charge for downloading the self-ePublished book to the Kindle if access over 3G network, and I'm not sure Amazon wants to futher fragment the market to breakdown what's available over "free" wi-fi vs. "free to you, not Amazon" 3G network.

      As for the author, he provides a 50,000 foot view of the process (we choose Amazon Createspace), but never gives any

  • As was previously report on Slashdot, e-books are only 6 percent of book sales [slashdot.org]
    • by Legion303 (97901)

      And in this case, e-books will be 100% of sales for this title, because it isn't going to be published any other way.

    • The ebook market is growing year to year, while paper books are continuing to shrink. Give it 5 years, the pattern will be even more accelerated.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @11:14PM (#33921634) Journal
    I just wrote a book which is compilation of the blog/articles on my website [fatherspiritson.com] over the past years. By going through LULU.com [lulu.com], we were able to publish the book for free when no other people wanted to publish our book. My family members who don't use computers got to read what I wrote and they enjoyed it. If you ever have some information available to you, put it in book form, maybe someone will want to buy it. Like I said,"You can do something as simple as compile all your blogs/articles over the past few years, and turn it into a book!"
    • by kenh (9056)

      Personally, I find how-to articles that walk you through the mechanics of publishing your own writing into a physical book more interesting, because some day I might have a large enough collection of random thoughts and writings that I want to give to friends and family members - I don't imagine I'd be able to convince anyone I don't personally know to read, never mind buy, a book I might write.

    • by Raenex (947668)

      My family members who don't use computers got to read what I wrote and they enjoyed it.

      Did you tell your aunt that you hated the ugly sweater she got you for Christmas?

  • For those that are serious about ebook production, and that need a professional editor and someone who can proof and format your book for EPUB, MOBI, etc., then go here for more info: http://www.phoenixstudios.com.np/corporate [phoenixstudios.com.np] [phoenixstudios.com.np]. Our rates are low, as we are an outsource provider with little overhead. No, this is not spam, I read /. everyday and found this article of great interest (well, the comments were interesting). Cheers!
  • by dmorin (25609) <dmorinNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @08:13AM (#33923212) Homepage Journal
    It may be a little late for me to weigh in on this one, but I've just published an ebook (http://www.hearmysoulspeak.com) on Kindle within the last couple weeks, so I figured I'd offer my own experience from a different angle.

    I'm not a traditional published author. This is my first book. Using the logic that an ebook has numerous formatting considerations that make it easier (far less worry about page numbers, page size, left/right concerns, etc...), I decided to go with the ebook in the hopes of making enough $$ that it'd be worth my time to properly format a print book.

    The book is about Shakespeare (specifically, a collection of Shakespeare wedding material), and I knew two things - I should have some sort of credentials in the area I'm writing about, and some sort of way to market. I run a number of Shakespeare sites (http://www.shakespearegeek.com primarily among them), and have done so for a number of years. They've got a pretty good following. I thought I'd be all set there, at least as far as getting a jumpstart goes. I'm also a web guy for a living (though not a designer), so arranging a domain and getting some content on it was not much of a worry (http://www.hearmysoulspeak.com did I mention that?) My strategy has been "Have something acceptable up, then drive traffic, and then once you've got traffic up, worry about making a prettier site."

    I did have an editor. You need an editor. You will make stupid typos, if nothing else, and you'll need another set of eyes to spot them. An editor also serves as your first reader, and can say things like "This part didn't make sense to me" or "You said the same thing here that you said over there." Get an editor. I lucked out, one of my regular readers who happens to be a college professor said he'd do it for me, and was very helpful.

    The publishing part is actually the easiest. There are a zillion "ebook converter" apps out there. But instead of doing that, just go straight to Calibre (http://www.calibre-ebook.com), as it does everything. I originally started mine in LaTeX, because I was heading for print. Then I switched to PDF (easily converted) until eventually ending up with EPUB since it seemed popular. EPUB, for the curious, is basically just a zip file of HTML with some organizing context thrown in). See below, though, for thoughts on how to handle multiple formats.

    Here's the tricky part of publishing, even if you do crank out multiple versions of your book : a) every publisher wants a different one, and b) you have to do it individually for each. I started out on Lulu, because that was the most efficient way I saw into the iPad store. iPad wants EPUB. Fine. But then I wanted to release a PDF version as well, to cover the wider case for people reading on a PC. Lulu can handle that - but it can't apparently associate them both on a singe page. So I'll forever have two products in their catalog. I can live with that.

    Aha, but what about Kindle? Kindle has its own store, for one. And, it wants MOBI format. Ok, did that. Now I've got to maintain my book in two places.

    Guess what happened last week? Barnes and Noble opened up their Pubit! store for the Nook. Yayyy, three places to maintain my book. I hear Borders has a project in the works as well.

    I generated every format (EPUB, MOBI, PDF) of my book in Calibre, and then tweaked them by hand until they looked the way I wanted (or at least, as close as I could get). Although all of the ebook stores will do automatic conversion for you, keep in mind that your copy will end up looking terrible.

    Your pages on all these stores will also look very plain, until you get some reviews. Seriously, go get some reviews. Give away as many copies as you can, and beg reviews. This is the stage I'm in now. I've got web reviews, but I'm trying to get people to take the time and go give Amazon or iPad reviews. They help. Nobody wants to feel like they're the first one taking a chance on what could be a piece of garbage.

    Lessons learned so

  • You could have told us the story was on the Huffington Post - that article was as much promotion for the book as it was anything else.

    So, to re-cap, this is the "new publishing" model:

    1) become a famous, published author with 13 books published, have sold one book as a movie
    2) work with three other famous/published authors
    3) write the book collaboratively
    4) save all your process documents as special 'e-filler' material
    5) crowd source the editing to friends & co-authors
    6) give away a couple hundred advan

  • A friend of mine writes the occasional book, but the scare stories he told me put me off. His books sell for about £15-20, but for every 1000 sold, he gets £1000, which is pitiful. Yes, I know publishers have to proof-read, typeset, edit, bind and distribute, but they're making most of the money from some one else's hard work. So, I decided to try the ebook route. My book sold OK and I offered to distribute it via email or on CD, but it wasn't making much. So, after advice from people that they
    • by BigBadBus (653823)
      ...oh yes, just remembered. If you really want any book to sell, you will need to buy an ISBN. Without it, you'll be lucky if reviewers will touch it. You'll be limited by publicity on the internet and word-of-mouth, which are poor ways to sell a book.

"You know, we've won awards for this crap." -- David Letterman

Working...