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A Few Words about eBooks
Ebooks are not a new trend. However, only recently have many authors realized their terrific potential. It is not so much the fact that eBooks are easy to publish and distribute. They are also more ecological, faster to produce, cost nothing for additional copies, and are easier to carry (especially with today's popular and accessible eReaders). However, in many people's minds there still exists the preconception that eBooks cannot be of good quality if they are self-published. Although there is some truth in that claim, if your eBook is well written, the reader won't care much if it has been self-published or not. Whatever you choose to do with your work, it is good to know what your options are, namely self-publishing and self-promoting, self-publishing and using an external distributor, and publishing and distributing through the traditional channels.
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The Self-Publishing, Self-Promotion Way
This is the most challenging but also the most lucrative way of publishing your eBook. It entails a lot of background research on e-publishing and e-marketing. However, if you are thinking of publishing more than one eBook it may be worth the effort. You need:
- A PDF creator (e.g. cutePDF or OpenOffice). Such a program can be online or offline.
- A program to transform your eBook into various eReader formats (e.g. .epub). Such a program can be found online.
- Registration of your copyright (this is optional but recommended).
- A professional-looking website.
- Various channels for promoting your eBook website.
- A good price policy.
- A few freebies and other promotional materials.
- And, of course, as many backlinks from relevant websites as possible.
The cost of this way of publishing is relatively high if you are not experienced in the relevant technology; you may need to hire one or more freelancers for building, hosting and promoting. Also, if you don't have graphic design skills, you might want to hire a designer for your eBook cover--something that cannot be overlooked if you plan to actually make some money from your eBook. Needless to say, before you put your eBook on the Internet for sale, you should proofread and edit it, something that may incur an additional cost (it is not recommended that you do these things yourself). If you don't want to hire someone else to do it, you can try doing it using a computer program such as Whitesmoke (at Whitesmoke.com).
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The Self-Publishing, External Distributor Way
This is somewhat easier than the previous method. It entails the same process as far as publishing is concerned, but the promotional aspect is simpler. Once your eBook is edited, proofread, compiled and copyrighted, you then give it to a distributor such as Smashwords to make it available to the public. It is very important to tell the distributor the exact category your eBook best fits; you also want to provide a good description. Again, the cover design remains very important.
Using an external distributor does not cost much--apart from time, since the distributor may need you to reformat your eBook to its specs. However, it does receive a percentage from your eBook's sales revenue.
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The Traditional Way
This section is for the very prolific writer who is also somewhat well off and doesn't mind spending a significant amount of money to get his eBook going. This method is recommended for the established professional who does writing as a hobby and doesn't want to devote too much time on the technicalities of publishing and promoting his work.
If you want to publish an eBook the traditional way, you need the following:
- An agent (this can be a company that offers representation)
- A publisher
- A distributor, unless the publisher explicitly states that it will undertake this task, something not so common nowadays
- A quite good outline or story, depending on whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction. This is extremely important because unless you can convince the agent and the publisher that your work is worthwhile, he may not be willing to collaborate. Also, the publishers who offer to publish anything you give them (aka vanity publishers) are often an undesirable option; they usually don't care whether you make any sales or not.
The traditional way will yield very little income (usually 15% of the sales or even less) and in some cases you may need to contribute to the promotion of your work.
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Publishing an eBook is much easier than it used to be. As the cost of electronic technologies falls by the year, it doesn't cost that much, particularly if you know a few things about the technical side or you know people who can help you out. Nevertheless, the competition is fierce and it is often a very time-consuming process before you start making any money. The exception, of course, is for those who have found a good niche. It is recommended that you read a few eBooks on the topic.