OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
You might have noticed that ebooks are being talked about a lot at the moment. The growth of ebook readers and ebook sales plus the success of Kindle authors have made headline news in even the most traditional press. A few days ago, bestselling thriller author Barry Eisler announced that he was turning down a half million traditional publishing deal to self-publish, primarily because of the potential of ebook sales. And do I need to mention Amanda Hocking's Kindle millionare status?
If you're not convinced yet, here are ten reasons authors love ebooks and at the bottom, introducing my new multi-media course on ebook publishing if you're ready to poke your toe into the water.
1) Ebook sales are growing which means the number of readers is growing. I've certainly been noticing more ebook readers on the train and also people in my office are buying the new Kindles and loving them. Ebook sales have been reported to be up 115% this year, and even though that's growing from a small base, the pace of adoption is speeding up. Your book can be available to this growing market.
2) You can reach readers globally. This is amazingly exciting when you think hard about it. Anyone can now publish their book on Amazon.com, the biggest bookstore in the world, or on a site like Smashwords, also open to all. Anyone can buy your book as long as they have some kind of digital device to read it on. Since Kindle app, Stanza and other apps are now on the majority of smart cellphones, it won't be long before even the developing world can be reading your books (since cellphones have a much larger penetration than computers). I'm in Australia and yet my major market is in the US, thousands of miles away. Some US authors I've spoken to have said how well their books sell in Europe. It's a small world when our work is digital. Brilliant!
3) You can publish your book within 24 hours – and for free. Speed to market has to be one of the most annoying factors of traditional publishing. It can take 18 months – 2 years to reach bookstores after you've finished writing a book. Perhaps that can be chopped down to as little as 6 months but with ebooks, you can publish to the Kindle store within 24 hours. You should absolutely be using professional editing, cover design and formatting but once the book is ready for the market, you can publish fast and easily. Oh yes, and it's free to publish on Amazon and Smashwords. They just keep a small % of sales.
4) Ebook readers buy more books. I know this from experience as I read at least 3x more books now than I did before because the price enables it. My husband just bought 5 novels over the rainy weekend which he devoured. They were indie priced at $2.99 and so there's not even a question that's a bargain. New books in Australia are around $30 each. The price alone means that people will read more books electronically. There are also studies out that show this too, so it's not just my opinion!
5) You can experiment with pricing. Joe Konrath has recently been doing experiments with the $2.99 and 99 cents pricing for his book The List. It's hard to know what makes a difference but the sweet spot is certainly under $5 for larger volume sales. I certainly had a surge at 99c for Read an Ebook week but was also in the Kindle charts for $2.99. The top sellers are playing with different price points, for example, selling the first in a series for 99c and then making subsequent books $2.99 or $4.99. Whatever price you choose, you can make changes quickly and easily for ebooks with the update being posted within 24 hours so you can experiment.
6) Ebook readers buy more indie books. You basically can't buy books by independent authors in bookstores unless the author has made a specific effort to work with an individual bookseller. Therefore, it was hard for readers to find these books and perhaps it's understandable why they were considered of lower value. But with ebooks, the publisher doesn't matter to the reader (generally) and readers are finding ebooks through multiple ways. Obviously the Kindle Top rankings in any category are important but also recommendations and marketing made a difference. Once readers are convinced there are quality indie books around, they can be converted to buying similar books.
7) Daily sales figures. This type of reporting is unheard of in traditional publishing where authors may never learn exact sales figures or understand the source of the sale. Royalty statements might come months later and aren't traceable to any specific marketing campaign. On Amazon and other platforms you can see your sales figures and adjust your efforts accordingly. As someone who appreciates internet marketing and online sales, I really like to know what I am selling and what money is coming in. It's great to be able to log into the Amazon KDP and see sales figures for US and UK sites.
8) You can update any typos or problems with the book. There are always typos in any book, no matter how traditional the publisher. I had 2 editors and 7 proof-readers and still there were a few typos in Pentecost. With ebooks, you can fix these up and reload the file and the next person gets the corrected ebook. This also means you can also add references to the next book in the series when your subsequent book is launched, or sample chapters with a hyperlink to the next book. Plus, you can even personalize ebooks by signing them with this method as ireadiwrite has been doing.
9) You can make more money and get paid more regularly. Don't take my word for this. Read this discussion between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath, best selling thriller authors. Eisler turned down half million to go the self-publishing route. He explains it all in that post. These are amazing times. (and should I mention Amanda Hocking again?)
10) You don't have to be technical as you can use freelancers. For many people, the thought of ebook formats and coding is all too technical, time-consuming and frustrating. But don't worry any more! There are plenty of freelancers you can use for this. I personally recommend B10 Mediaworx, April L Hamilton and EBook Architects. You can also check the ebook formatting directory here. Yes, you need a budget but only a small one and it's an investment in a quality finished product.
So what are you waiting for?
I now have four ebooks selling on the Kindle and other ebook distribution platforms and recently went through the process for my first thriller novel, Pentecost. It's still in the Kindle bestseller rankings six weeks after launch (although rankings change hourly so this will change).
I learned a lot along the way and share all that information with you in this multi-media mini-course, Ebook Publishing for Kindle, iPad and more. It has 4 screen capture videos where I go through everything I've learned about ebooks, answers to common questions plus behind the scenes of my Kindle and Smashwords accounts so you can exactly how the process works. There are audio mp3s of each of those videos plus a full color ebook with screen-shots and detail so you can read as well.
The mini-course is US$39.99 with a full money-back guarantee if you're not happy – no questions asked.Click here to read more in-depth information about the course.
Do you have any concerns about ebook publishing? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to address them.